Your Business in the Rear View — How to Look Back, Then Leap Forward

Your business BFFs reporting for duty with our tried and tested way to review and reflect on your year in business and set yourself up for future success.

Emma Bowdler | The Women's Accountant

Emma Bowdler

I’m a cheerleader for women and an accountant bursting with personality. 

Being in business for yourself can sometimes be a whole lotta Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. But we are beyond ready to see women do a business dance of another kind…

So, if you’re ready to take the world by storm this year, we are your business BFFs reporting for duty. Buckle up and get ready to unleash your fiercest, most financially savvy self with this no-nonsense approach to kicking off your New Year in style.

It all starts with a look back in the rear view mirror, so let’s get straight to the gold and give you the ‘what’, the ‘why’, and the ‘how’ — so you can slay all day, every day!

Why the Rear View is the Best View

Ask JLo (or is it Affleck now?) — sometimes that rear view is the best, and juiciest view. But we can’t do more than a cursory glance in the rear view while we’re still trying to frantically focus on where the fuck we are going.

In our Business Owners’ Guide to the Festive Season, we called out that December is often *not the best time* for a proper review because we tend to see things as we are (a bit frazzled and exhausted), rather than as they are. And we encouraged you to just let it go, and instead, book a date in early January for a retrospective and strategic planning session.

Well, January is here, queens! Now you’re feeling a smidgen more relaxed, and have some perspective (and a few Christmas cocktails under your belt) — let’s pause, adjust those rear vision mirrors, and get reflecting.

Why the Rear View is the Best View - Your Business in the Rear View — How to Look Back, Then Leap Forward

Why It’s Important to Look Back and How to Do It Right

Sustainability, profitability and longevity in business are built off the back of your capacity to zoom out and see the bigger picture, and then zoom in to take action on things that really move the dial. But when you’re head down bum up all day, it can be really hard to get the perspective you need and see the wood from the weeds.

We need to be deliberate and intentional about taking time to reflect, and giving ourselves the space and time for insights and learning to come to the surface.

Taking a strategic look back on the year that was to figure out what worked, what didn’t, who you loved working with, and who you’d be glad to see the back of is like having a heart-to-heart with your past self, but with actionable takeaways. Because truth be told: you can’t change the past.

The mistakes you’ve made, the floundering you’ve done, the harebrained ideas you haven’t followed through — they’re done, and no amount of coulda, woulda, shoulda can change that. But the real kicker is when you find yourself in the same place, doing the same thing, making the same fuck ups, year after year.

Just like the saying ‘if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there’, investing the time to take stock of how your business is tracking is critical to not making the same mistakes over and over. A hefty part of being a successful and strategic boss lies in your ability to review, reflect and put those juicy learnings into practice. It’s time to celebrate your wins and learn from the losses.

So how the hell do I do that? It’s time for a no-holds-barred session with yourself — digging into last year’s highlights and lowlights.

Celebrate those top wins — how did you make them happen? Embrace the stumbles — what lessons did you learn? And transform these insights into your next big moves.

👇

PS: Our free Slay All Day Workbook has all the questions you need to answer in order to comprehensively look back on the year that was and start planning ahead.

Walking the Walk — Sharing our Rear View Reflections

You know by now that we would never tell you to do something that we wouldn’t do ourselves, and that we are more than happy to be out the front, walking the walk, and sharing the highs, lows and ‘what the fucks’ of running a business. So, here’s a taste of what our Rear View Reflection looked like…

Walking the Walk — Sharing our Rear View Reflections - Your Business in the Rear View — How to Look Back, Then Leap Forward

Three Things We Loved

What went well, or better than we planned:

1. Investing in a Brand DNA and New Visual Identity

This really cemented our key messaging, perfectly articulated why we do what we do, and proved super useful to get contractors or new team members on board. It also helped us feel really proud to share who we are and what we do, and helped us attract far more clients in the ‘ideal’ category.

2. Having a Well-Structured
(and Do-able) Marketing Plan

Choosing monthly themes to help us generate ideas, be more consistent and create content ahead of time, rather than always chasing our tails. Bringing a new team member on board to absolutely own that marketing stuff and really make it her own was invaluable here, as was using contractors to execute the things we’re not so good at.

3. Leading From Our Values

 

We really invested in improving our leadership skills this year and defining our values, so we could make quicker and more aligned decisions. Part of this came from the Brand DNA process, and having an increased awareness of who we need to BE in order to achieve our goals — and it isn’t always easy (as you’ll see), but it was so worth it.

Three Things That Low-Key Sucked

What didn’t go so well, or worse than we anticipated:

1. A Big Dip In Revenue →

Part of leading from our values this year looked like moving on clients who were no longer aligned with where we are going. This meant a big decrease in revenue (we’re talking six figures), but we have faith this will be a temporary tango to make space for new and wonderful clients.

2. Making a Wrong Hire

Any business owner knows that hiring is a significant investment, not only in the additional revenue you need to cover the seat, but in training and getting that person up to speed. We probably ignored some red flags early on in the process, and got a little blinded by our desperation for things to work, that when they didn’t — it really diminished our confidence.

3. Cozzie Livs 


Ok, so this one isn’t really our fault, but just like many other businesses — the rising cost of living really stung this year. Our expenses were higher, revenue was lower, and it was harder to get people to sign on the dotted line. When uncertainty is high, people really resist making changes, especially when it comes to accountants. And trust us — we see people’s books day in, day out — there was hardly a business that wasn’t impacted by this.

Three Things We’re Really Fucking Proud Of

What we need to make time to pat ourselves on the back for:

1. Making Time and Space to Build with Intention →

It wasn’t always easy, but we majorly upped the boundaries this year and invested in growing our leaderships skills so we can be better advisors. That meant a four-day work week, and a dedicated day every week for our founder, Emma, to work ‘on the business’, and working with other business coaches and strategists. Having the time and space to be clear on where we want to go and to build with intention and clarity was a game changer.

2. Saying ‘No’ More and Changing our Offerings →

Saying no takes courage, and we had the business balls this year to niche, wind up our work with clients who no longer aligned, and not to drop our prices when people asked us to. Yes, this meant a (hopefully temporary) dip in revenue, but it also created more space for us to work on the business, and to work with the clients who are actually right for us (women-run service-based businesses!).

We also stood firm on our pricing and boundaries because we have a stronger idea of the value we can bring to businesses, and have been working hard to unlearn some unhelpful ‘worth’ and money stories that were lurking beneath the surface (yes, even accountants can have unhelpful money stories!).

3. Maintaining our Vision

Sure, our business has evolved significantly since we started, but we are so proud that we’re continued to stay true to our original vision of ‘being everything that a stereotypical accountant is not’, which is to say bright, bold, and brave enough to say fuck on our website. We cannot preach to women to build a business on their terms if we’re not prepared to do the same, and so this is us — doing it, to the point where we even think Barbie would want to work with us.

Three Big Takeaways to Leap Into the New Year

What we want to stick with us, so we can continue to level up year-on-year:

1. Everything Comes Back to Value(s) →

We loved banging the drum that ‘charging your worth is BS’ and we’re going to keep doing it. The other thing is that you will never regret time spent unpacking your values and what they look like in practice, in very specific detail. It’s helped us make more aligned and quicker decisions, which feels so much better, and we don’t want to run a business any other way.

2. Planning and Outsourcing Pays Off →

Flying by the seat of your knickers can be fun, for a while. Then it just becomes stressful and a sign of an immature business or an inability to delegate. Of course, there’s always going to be things we can’t anticipate and we always want the flexibility to jump at a shiny thing every once in a while (hello: neurodivergent baddies), but planning makes it all run more smoothly. And just because you *can* doesn’t mean you should. Outsourcing some aspects of our business was a total game changer and allowed us to focus on other things that only we can do.

3. Your Gut = Valuable Data


When you know something is not quite right, don’t ignore it. Particularly as women in male-dominated industries, we spend so much time using our heads that we forget our hearts and our guts provide extremely valuable (and often accurate) data on when things are not right. Right now, we feel supported by really good people, and have the right people in the right seats on the bus, and we want it to stay that way.

Now It’s Your Turn…

 

Business isn’t all peace, love and lollipops (we wish), but chances are you’re doing far better than you think you are, and you’re learning so much more — about yourself, about others, and about business itself — than you think you are too. Those insights deserve their moment in the spotlight, and so do you.

Take the time to run your own version of ‘Business in the Rear View’ and be sure to share what you come up with in our free Kick Arse Women Doing Business Facebook group or email us → [email protected]

Here’s to taking business by the pom poms!

Free Download:

Slay All Day Workbook

Featuring helpful tips, prompts, templates, and even a Matrix — our free ‘Slay All Day’ Workbook is stuffed with more juicy goodness than your Spanx after Christmas dinner!

Embrace The Roar: What It Means To Be Fierce In Business

Embrace The Roar: What It Means To Be Fierce In Business

Embrace The Roar: What It Means To Be Fierce In Business Emma BowdlerI’m a cheerleader for women and an accountant bursting with personality. Back in 2022, four words struck us like a bolt of lightning. We had just launched our Biz Booster Masterclass Series to...

read more
Why ‘Charging your Worth’ is BS and What to Do Instead

Why ‘Charging your Worth’ is BS and What to Do Instead

Why ‘Charging your Worth’ is BS and What to Do Instead Explore why 'charging your worth' is holding women in business back and how to beat gender biases, emotional pricing, and set effective, strategic rates. Emma BowdlerI’m a cheerleader for women and an accountant...

read more